Education, Prevention and Support
Education and Prevention
The Sentara Cancer Network aims to make an impact on reducing the incidence of cancer in our communities, and especially on the incidence of late-stage cancers and mortality. We encourage residents to know their risks and talk to their doctors about the most appropriate screening schedule. And in the geographic areas where cancer incidence and mortality are exceptionally high, we bring the physicians and resources into the community for education and screenings. Teams are focused on delivering education and screenings for the most prominent, and most deadly, cancer types in our service areas – breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and head/neck cancer. The highlights below, which illustrate only a few from among extensive outreach activities, demonstrate the role of our creative outreach partnerships in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina.
Population Health Approach
Breast cancer awareness goes well beyond the pink ribbon. Through partnerships and grants, our educators are reaching more and more women in areas where cancer mortality is higher than it needs to be. For example, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, an organization dedicated to advocacy in health, education and empowerment for black women and girls, helped the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center team reach more than 700 women in historic black churches. Cancer educators and physicians specifically addressed the prevalence of triple negative breast cancer.
Partnership with Primary Care Physicians
With changes to the national recommendations and reimbursement of early lung cancer screening for longtime smokers, the team at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital took steps to ensure that the Charlottesville primary care community was educated. Referrals from primary care physicians to the CT Screening program spiked, bringing in residents who otherwise may have waited until symptoms appeared and lung cancer would have been untreatable. For any patients found to have early-stage lung cancer, the screenings were backed up with the comprehensive lung cancer program.
Expanding Geographical Access
In Hampton Roads, head and neck cancer surgeons from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital partnered with a local otolaryngology practice to reach potential patients on the Virginia Peninsula. Bringing the advanced services to a local community campus resulted in seeing more patients, including some with potential cancers, by bringing care closer to home.
Throughout the network, we know that during and after cancer treatment, our patients benefit from support services. In addition to traditional support groups where participants find comfort and strength in the safe environment of their peers, the Sentara Cancer Network also provides health and wellness activities customized to cancer patients and caregivers. From massage therapy, exercise classes and yoga, our educators help keep people moving and feeling the best they can. Partnerships with the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, community health departments and our own hospital auxiliaries help maintain a dynamic range of programs and services. Image recovery centers have been particularly popular for patients dealing with changes to their physical appearance during treatment. The communities lend their support through donations of time and talents by volunteering, participating in fundraising walks and 5K runs and creating special care items for patients. While cancer can be a devastating disease, it can also bring out tremendous empathy and compassion.